With Labor Day 2023 finally here, millions of Americans will enjoy an extended weekend. Many will head off to the beach for one last gasp of summer. Others will just relax at home. No matter how you observe Labor Day Weekend, there are some interesting facts everyone should know about this federal holiday.
1. It Started as a Parade
The first U.S. celebration of Labor Day occurred in New York City on Tuesday, September 5, 1882. Planned by the Central Labor Union, it was a march of 10,000 workers from City Hall to 42nd Avenue and then a picnic and concert with their families.
2. It Came From Canada
Although Labor Day is a U.S. holiday, the idea originated in Canada. In Toronto in 1872, there was a “Nine-Hour Movement” as a show of support for workers on strike. The first U.S. state to officially declare Labor Day was Oregon in 1887.
3. Discussing Who Started It Can Get Heated!
It doesn’t get as intense as debates over whether Shakespeare really wrote the works of Shakespeare, but there is deep disagreement over who started Labor Day here. One camp is for Peter J. Maguire, the cofounder of the American Federation Labor. The other contends it was Matthew Maguire, a machinist. The two were unrelated.
4. Establishment as a Legal Federal Holiday
If you have Labor Day off and appreciate it, you can thank President Grover Cleveland and Congress. In 1894, following a railroad strike, Cleveland wanted to honor workers by dedicating the first Monday of every September to honoring labor. Later that year, Congress passed a bill establishing the federal holiday, and Cleveland signed it into law.
5. Labor Day Then and Now
In its origin, Labor Day was about recognizing and celebrating the contributions of working men and women. Today, it’s seen as the unofficial end of summer, going back to school, and a time for travel, barbecues, and other recreation. It’s also one of the times of the year when retailers hold big sales.
6. The Workweek Then and Now
In the 19th century, the typical laborer worked 7 days a week for about 12 hours a day. The Adamson Act of 1916 established the standard 8-hour workday. Today, some work 3 or 4 days a week while others work all 7.
7. “No Wearing White After Labor Day”
You may have heard that it’s a fashion faux pas to wear white clothes after Labor Day. This goes back to Victorian times when white was associated with what the rich wore at their summer estates. Today, not too many people pay attention to this “rule.”
8. Labor Day Kicks off the NFL Regular Season
Many are sad to see summer go, but if you’re a pro football fan, you can cheer up. The first NFL regular season games typically start the week following Labor Day.
9. The First Waffle House Opened on Labor Day
If you drive through parts of the South and Midwest, it can seem that there’s a Waffle House, known for tasty food and being open 24 hours, practically every mile. The first Waffle House opened in Avondale Estates, GA, in 1955. Those employees apparently did not get the day off.
10. It’s the End of Hot Dog Season
The National Hot Dog and Sausage Council, which you can be forgiven for not knowing it exists, considers the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day to be Hot Dog Season. During that time, Americans will eat 7 billion hot dogs.
11. Labor Day Is the Country’s 4th-Busiest Travel Weekend
After Thanksgiving Weekend, the 4th of July Weekend, and Memorial Day, Labor Day is the 4th-busiest travel weekend of the year. Note: If you have a flexible schedule, travel after Labor Day; the weather’s still great, the crowds thin out, and prices are lower.
12. What Famous People Have Labor Day Birthdays?
Beyonce, Keanu Reeves, Salma Hayek, Charlie Sheen, Mark Harmon, Michael Keaton, and Evan Rachel Wood have September birthdates that sometimes fall on Labor Day. Legendary singer Buddy Holly was born on Labor Day itself (September 7, 1936).
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This article was produced by Our Woven Journey.
Featured Image Credit: shablovskyistock/Shutterstock
Robert Sihler is an educator, freelance writer, and rock climbing guide and instructor living with his family in Driftwood, Texas. In his spare time, he enjoys reading fiction, streaming films, completing crossword puzzles, and rock climbing. When he goes on vacation, he likes to visit the mountains of the West and climb remote, obscure peaks that have seen few or no prior ascents.